Chorley’s Town Hall clock will be illuminated in purple on Monday (September 6) to mark a significant victory for thousands of local women affected by changes to the state pension age.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman recently upheld a complaint that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to adequately communicate the effects of the 1995 Pensions Act in a timely and appropriate manner.
The decision followed a lengthy campaign by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) and boosts the prospect of compensation for women born in the 1950s.
Chorley Council has long given its backing to the cause, and in July 2017 passed a motion in support of addressing an issue that affects more than 6,000 women in the borough and some 3.8 million across the UK.
To highlight the motion, the Town Hall clock was illuminated in purple – the colour of the WASPI campaign. The local landmark will again be lit up on Monday as the council joins other local authorities across the country in marking this significant progress, on the day that MPs return to Parliament after the summer recess.
Coun Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “The ruling of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is a victory for fairness, equality and common sense.
“The issue is not that the state pension age for women was raised, but that those impacted were not notified appropriately until it was too late for them to change their retirement plans – leading in many cases to financial and emotional distress.
“We are pleased that the WASPI campaigners have been vindicated in their complaint and we continue to support their call for justice to be done.”
Prior to the 1995 Pensions Act, the state pension age for women had been 60. Subsequently, a phased transition brought it in line with the state pension age for men – with both now standing at 66.
The ombudsman’s findings of maladministration by the DWP focuses on a delay in providing direct information to the women impacted by the change in legislation.
The PHSO report states that by 2004 the DWP was aware that more targeted and individually tailored communication was necessary, and that the department should have sent letters to those affected by December 2006 at the latest - 28 months earlier than it actually did.
The findings are part of a three-stage investigation process, which will now go on to consider the effects of this maladministration.